Sarah Garland’s first book, Gangs of Garden City, tells the story of Latino former gang members living in Long Island, NY. This book, and her prolific work as a journalist, are both connected to work she did as a CLACS M.A. student.
Sarah participated in the joint CLACS / Journalism MA program supported by a McCracken Fellowship, and graduated in 2004. Her CLACS thesis focused on transnational cultural identity and gang culture in El Salvador. During her time at CLACS she traveled to Mexico, and also did research in El Salvaor through an Oversees Press Foundation Grant.
Asked about the connection between her time at CLACS and her current work, she said, “the CLACS academic background was very helpful in giving me a way to think, and a deeper understanding of issues that – as a journalist – you might only learn about in a superficial way.”
Sarah has written for the The New York Times, Newsweek, Newsday, The New York Sun, The New York Post, The Village Voice, New York Magazine and Marie Claire. Currently, she is a staff writer at the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit news agency that does in-depth reporting on education.
Barbara D’Ambruoso at Parque Colón in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Last summer, in the first ever collaboration between NYU CLACS, Yale PIER, and the Yale Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies, CLACS helped organized the Colonial Latin America Summer Institute for educators. The Institute is a series of intensive professional development sessions that serves as a continuing educational training tool for in-service and pre-service educators. The objective of the Summer Institute is to present the best and the latest scholarship on international education to help educators introduce current perspectives on international topics and improve teaching materials for their students. The sessions are led by faculty, graduate students and other expert educators who provide an in-depth understanding of the latest research on teaching international content subjects in schools.
A new element of the 2011 Summer Institute was the production of “classroom-ready” teaching materials, which would be tested in one classroom and then disseminated widely online. By making the materials available on the CLACS website, they can be shared widely, and free of charge, with educators interested in bringing these topics into the classroom.
I have been interviewing artists in São Paulo who approach their art making as a form of action research, others whose art tends at times towards social communication and/or activism, and others whose work combines methodologies drawn from radical pedagogy with methodologies and strategies more familiar to visual and performance art.
BijaRi studio in São Paulo with one of their 'green' interventions parked in front. Photo by Jennifer Flores Sternad
Some of my most interesting conversations with these artists have been related to their experience with the Prestes Maia occupation in downtown São Paulo between the years of 2003 and 2007. At the time, the Prestes Maia building housed the largest vertical favela in Latin America. It was one of the occupations in the historic city center of São Paulo organized by the Movimento Sem Teto do Centro (MSTC). Speaking with the artists who worked with the residents in the building has helped me to understand the complexity of this collaboration — from the difficulties of building cross-class alliances and that competing demands and desires related to the artists’ labor to the encounter of a highly organized social movement with a spirit of social and artistic experimentation. Added to this are the complexities of social movement, their relationship to NGOs and state institutions.
One of the most interesting recent projects I’ve learned about is a park that was recently built in a favela in one of São Paulo’s outlying neighborhoods through the efforts of an art collective (with federal arts funding), the local art center, local organizers and other neighborhood residents. Spending a day at the park and speaking to the persons involved in creating and maintaining impressed upon me how great an undertaking it really was — and how deeply it depended on the social tissue in that community and an ongoing collective investment in the space and the in activities that keep it viable. One of the things I saw with this project is its wholly status as fine art. This is something I’ve noted in several of my interviews — as in artists who would just as soon describe some of their projects as ‘communication’ or otherwise. What I’ve found most interesting is that this definitional flexibility is at work when it comes to institutional relations and funding of these projects, such that an art collective’s project that starts out with federal arts funding is then continued with funding from a federal housing authority, for example. Or in another case: a green energy generator made from re-purposed garbage that started out as a ‘functional sculpture’ in an art exhibition (an exhibition-cum-squat in an abandoned mansion), then became an important part of a collective initiative undertaken in an urban quilombo, undertaken by artists and local communities, and finally (or most recently) the artist who developed this technology was tapped by the federal office for indigenous peoples to coordinate the implementation of similar technologies in government posts that border isolated indigenous communities in the Amazon.
Posted by Jennifer Flores Sternad — PhD candidate in American Studies at NYU